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5 players who gave a glimpse of what might come at the U20 World Championships

From Maro Itoje to Beauden Barrett, several players have used the competition as a springboard.

1. Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

Beauden Barrett is widely regarded as one of the best players in world rugby. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

AS U20 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS go, the Taranaki-born number ten couldn’t have asked for a better one when he lined out for the Baby Blacks in 2011.

Playing at full-back because Gareth Anscombe (now of Wales) was lined up in his usual position, Barrett scored a decisive late try when beating England in the final.

The 25-year old was named World Rugby Player of The Year in 2016.

2. Maro Itoje (England)

England’s Maro Itoje Maro Itoje has had a phenomenal three years. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The youngest player in the Lions squad for this year’s tour of New Zealand, Itoje’s career has gone from strength to strength since helping England to the U20 Championship crown in 2014.

The Saracens lock was named European Player of the Year in 2016 and helped the Premiership side to back-to-back European Cup titles this month.

On top of that he won a Grand Slam with England last season and a Championship with Eddie Jones’s men this year. Oh, and he’s not 23 until October.

3. Antoine Dupont (France)

Source: World Rugby/YouTube

The young scrum-half was one of the stars of last year’s U20 Championship, scoring 36 points, including the five for the try above.

After three years with Castres — where he terrorised Leinster in their drawn European Cup game in January — the 20-year old has been snapped up by Toulouse for next season.

4. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)

Garry Ringrose breaks free to score his side's fourth try Garry Ringrose has seen his stock rise rapidly in the past two years. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Three years ago, Ringrose was lining up for an U20 Championship semi-final against England and his performances in that tournament saw him shortlisted for the World Rugby Junior Player of the Year.

In 2015 he made his Leinster debut in the Pro12, scoring on his second appearance.

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While Ringrose was on the bench for Ireland’s historic win over the All Blacks last year, he didn’t take the field. However, he made up for that disappointment by scoring in Ireland’s three-point win over Australia to end 2016.

5. Handre Pollard (South Africa)

Henry Taylor and Handre Pollard go for the high ball Handre Pollard battles for possession during the 2014 U20 Championships final. Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Oh how South Africa could have done with a player of Pollard’s quality after losing eight of their 12 Tests in 2016, when an injury ruled him out for most of last season.

The 23-year old is so highly regarded at home that he won his first senior Springbok cap just eight days after South Africa lost by a single point to England in the 2014 U20 Championship final.

He was South Africa’s first choice out-half during the 2015 World Cup, scoring 93 points in the tournament.

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